Blagojevich: "I'm blacker than Obama"

Former governor, in a somewhat bizarre interview, goes off

By Alex Koppelman
Published January 11, 2010 2:38PM (EST)

Ever since the full weight of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was brought to bear upon him, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been known for his somewhat outrageous antics. But a new interview with Blagojevich, in Esquire, is still a little shocking, the portrait of someone in full breakdown mode, still convinced -- probably the only one who is -- that he did no wrong, that there was some kind of conspiracy against him, that the people of Illinois want him back.

Perhaps one of the more interesting quotes from the piece, which is worth reading in full, is this one. It seems particularly relevant given the buzz around Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's comment about President Obama, who he said has "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." Blagojevich:

This guy, he was catapulted in on hope and change, what we hope the guy is. What the fuck? Everything he's saying's on the teleprompter. I'm blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up.

This is a silly argument to get into, but it is interesting to note how quickly people have forgotten that Obama's upbringing was no picnic and transformed him, in their imaginations, into some kind of silver-spoon elitist.

Still, worth noting: Two very stupid quotes from two men. One's a disgraced governor awaiting trial; the other's the Senate majority leader.

Update: This quote wasn't out long before Blagojevich rushed to take it back. "What I said was stupid, stupid, stupid," he said Monday. "I was speaking metaphorically. Obviously I'm not blacker than President Obama."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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